Someone from TiA pointed me to this link (after much fiddling with asks (no links in asks is kinda annoying but understandable I guess) and asked me to write something about it.
A few ideas:
First off, I don’t think the defense of “cutting off a part of your body hurts” really cuts it. The game writers went in the sexual organ direction for a reason - but that doesn’t make VoidBurger right at all. In fact it probably makes them more wrong.
I like to watch and read horror, and even sometimes write it in my spare time - and I really enjoy trying to work out where the ‘scary angle’ is - and why the writers/directors did what they did.
So why did the creators of Outlast go for chopping dicks? Well, I looked up the game and the antagonists, and in the game you’re investigating a mental asylum for criminals. Just a note here - I’m going to avoid spoilers as best I can. The guy mentioned in the tweet is an insane criminal who used to mutilate women, but, without many women around in this asylum has been forced to victimize men instead.
Apparently he chases you around shouting misogynist slurs, and wants to cut your penis off, somehow give you a vagina (I assume cutting a hole in that general region), have sex with that hole, and then kill you.
A common view of Alien is that the facehugger impregnation scene and then chestbursting is supposed to be a metaphor for rape. Given that it is mentioned in the movie that it was a ‘birth’ and such, it’s fairly likely that was the intent of Ridley Scott. The fact that it happens to a man in the movie is a crash course in introducing men to the fear of rape.
So when a game comes out that features you running from a man, who is yelling misogynistic slurs, and wants to rape you - and portrays it as a horrific event… wouldn’t it be likely that they want to recreate a common fear of women in a surreal way, and have their players (male and female) experience that fear?
It’s not a dick joke, it’s not the game creators saying “oh man you should be scared of losing your penis because women are shit lol” - it’s to do with the fear of not only being mutilated, but also hunted down and violated.
In this sense, it’s very pro-woman, but it also sends a good message to men, in that men should still be afraid of rape. As we have more and more balanced studies of sexual assault being done - we’re finding that men seem to be being raped at approximately the same rate as women. Unfortunately (from what I know) no games are coming out that have a woman as the rapist - so they’re not breaking any ground there - but hey it’s a start. Helping men to understand that they too can be vulnerable to sexual assault and rape is important.
But let’s take the tweeter’s word for it… let’s imagine a game where the villain just chases you around saying “I’m going to cut your dick off!”. The main theme is emasculation… do men have a right to be scared of that?
Of course they fucking do.
Is there something wrong with being comfortable with your body and not wanting your genitals to be taken away? If a studio made a game with a female protagonist and the villain was threatening to cut her boobs off and sew up her vagina would that mean the developers think that being a man is the worst possible fate? Is this proof that “MRAS ARE INFILTRATING THE GAMES INDUSTRY!?!?!?!?!?!?!”
Just what the fuck.
Plus the fear of emasculation is one that many men have, and it’s instilled by society and traditional gender roles. According to those gender roles, with “being a man” comes the responsibilities of being a man - you know, putting other people’s health before your own, keeping your family safe, etc.
I’m not saying these gender roles are correct, but exploiting them as a horror technique seems perfectly reasonable to me. And are men immature for not wanting to be emasculated? Of course not. As a man’s worth in this society is still to some degree based on his ability to provide for others and put himself last and not complain about it (enforced by men AND woman, mind you), being ‘masculine’ is still socially valuable. This is why effeminacy in guys is still (unfortunately) a sore spot, and a point for ridicule for assholes.
So in this game, what are players supposed to do? Embrace getting their dick chopped off because “hey being a woman will be fun!”? Who fucking knows?
What I do know though, is being a male victim of rape, mutilation, and social emasculation is a hell of a lot fucking worse than being a woman.
Really this is possibly one of the strongest cases I’ve seen for “but what about teh womennz???”